National Refill day is June 19th – This article in the Guardian on the serious environmental impacts of bottled water. This the 2nd article Rebecca Burgess, Chief Executive of City to Sea looks back on the growth of the Refill campaign. These articles reminded me of generally how little the UK Water Companies make of Refill day that should be a giant opportunity to promote the efforts they take to produce high quality clean drinking water. Bottled water after years of growth has suffered a decline in the last year but great efforts should be put on ensuring this continues.

Guardian: Do you drink bottled water? Bottled water is atrocious for the environment. You’re better off buying a water filter for healthier, tastier water. For years, the debate has raged on: which is better, bottled water, or tap? Despite its ever-growing popularity in the US, bottled water is atrocious for the environment. To quote Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability, “The entire life cycle of bottled water uses fossil fuels, contributes to global warming, and causes pollution.” Click here to read more

Refill and Water UK: reflections on a successful partnership

By Rebecca Burgess

This is a guest blog from Rebecca Burgess, Chief Executive of City to Sea. Rebecca looks back on the growth of the Refill campaign and a successful partnership with Water UK.

In 2018, Water UK united the water industry across England behind a common cause: to help prevent plastic pollution at source and increase the availability of free drinking water on-the-go. Together, they became founding partners of City to Sea’s Refill Campaign.

As part of the water industry’s Public Interest Commitment, we worked together with Water UK and the water companies across England to scale-up community action on plastic, increasing accessibility of plastic free drinking water on-the-go by signing up tens of thousands of Refill Stations and installing new water refill points in high-footfall areas across the UK.

Thanks to this collaborative effort, over the last three years Refill has grown from a grassroots campaign to an award-winning campaign, which is now expanding across the globe thanks to the example first set here in the UK. As a result of this partnership, we’ve grown Refill app downloads to 315,000 and the number of Refill stations has increased more than twenty-fold from 1,500 at the start of our partnership to more than 30,000 today fulfilling our commitment with Water UK.

Public awareness of the app and campaign has grown considerably in this time, reaching over 70 million on National Refill Day in 2019 alone with the help of all the water companies across England. It is estimated that the Refill campaign has prevented the equivalent of over 150 million plastic water bottles from entering our waste stream.

Partnerships such as this have played a significant role in shifting public perception and consumer behaviour towards reuse and refill models, with 66% of people saying knowledge of the Refill campaign made them more likely to carry a reusable bottle. By increasing the accessibility of free drinking water on-the-go and increasing visibility of where you can refill by displaying Refill window stickers across thousands of high street Refill Stations, we’ve helped to break down some of the barriers towards refilling and make it easier for more people to say no to single-use.

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